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Henry Badenhorst dead: Founder of Gaydar website 'dies aged 51' in South Africa

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The founder of Gaydar, one of the world's first gay dating websites, has reportedly died at the age of 51.

According to BuzzFeed News, Henry Badenhorst died in South Africa on 11 November 2017. Initial reports suggest he took his own life.

Badenhorst, who was named one of the most influential LGBT people in Britain by The Independent on Sunday, founded Gaydar in London in 1999.

According to the report, he died after falling from a tower block in his native South Africa.

local media report detailed the accounts of witnesses who claimed to have seen a 51-year-old man falling from the 23rd floor of the Michaelangelo Towers, a hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg.

BuzzFeed UK's LGBT editor, Patrick Strudwick, said Badenhorst was "one of the sweetest men you could ever know. He changed life for gay and bisexual men and will be greatly missed by all."

Badenhorst founded Gaydar alongside his business and romantic partner Gary Frisch in November 1999. Frisch passed away in 2007 - having also fallen to his death from a building's balcony.

The London-based South African couple came up with the idea for the dating website after a single gay man they were friends with vented his frustrations about how hard it was to find a boyfriend on online dating sites.

Built in 1999, Gaydar was the first of its kind and was initially just created for desktop purpose only. It did not transform into an app until 2009.

The current managing director of Gaydar, Rob Curtis, said Badenhurst and his partner totally changed the way gay men were able to meet.

"It's a sad day at Gaydar HQ as we adjust to the news of Henry's passing," he told The Independent. "Henry and Gary built Gaydar from their home, so the company has always been like a family. Thanks to Henry, LGBT people all around the world realised that they weren't alone. We send love to his friends and family at this difficult time."

“Eighteen years ago, Henry and his partner Gary revolutionised the way that gay men meet, and in doing so created a safer environment for LGBT people everywhere,” he said in an official statement. “The Gaydar team is shocked and saddened to hear of Henry’s passing and send our sincerest sympathies to Henry’s friends and family.”

Gaydar is massively popular in everywhere from South Africa to the UK to Australia, Ireland and also in North America and continental Europe but to a lesser extent in the two latter areas. At the zenith of the site’s success in the late noughties, it was home to more than five million subscribers.

It has of course laid the groundwork for well-known mobile phone dating apps such as Grindr, Scruff, and Tinder. 

As well as being famed for irreversibly shaking up the dating scene, it also found its way into the headlines on more occasion than one. After Boy George was convicted for falsely imprisoning a male escort in 2009, it emerged he had come across the escort on Gaydar. Labour MP Chris Bryant was discovered pictured on the dating site wearing just his pants.

Badenhorst is survived by his siblings and parents.

Independent

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